Optical properties of sulfur copolymers for infrared applications

Soha Namnabat, Jared J. Gabriel, Jeffrey Pyun, Robert A. Norwood

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

10 Scopus citations


The development of organic polymers with high refractive indices has been widely investigated, as a possible alternative to inorganic metal oxide, semiconductor, or chalcogenide-based materials for a variety of optical devices and components, such as waveguides, anti-reflective coatings, charge-coupled devices and fiber optic cables. In principle, organic-based polymers are attractive for these applications because of their low weight, ease of processing, mechanical toughness, and facile chemical variation using commercially available precursors. However, one of the fundamental challenges associated with organic polymers is their generally low refractive indices in comparison to their inorganic counterparts. Herein we report on the optical characterization of a new class of sulfur copolymers that are readily moldable, transparent above 500nm, possess high refractive index (n < 1.8) and take advantage of the low infrared absorption of S-S bonds for potential use in the mid-infrared at 3-5 microns. These materials are largely made from elemental sulfur by an inverse vulcanization process; in the current study we focus on the properties of a chemically stable, branched copolymer of poly(sulfur-random-1, 3-diisopropenylbenzene) (poly(S-r-DIB). Copolymers with elemental sulfur content ranging from 50% to 80% by weight were studied by UV-VIS spectroscopy, FTIR, and prism coupling for refractive index measurement. Clear correlation between material composition and the optical properties was established, confirming that the high polarizability of the sulfur atom leads to high refractive index while also maintaining low optical loss. Applications of the materials for bulk optics, high-density photonic circuits, and infrared components will also be discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOrganic Photonic Materials and Devices XVI
ISBN (Print)9780819498960
StatePublished - 2014
EventOrganic Photonic Materials and Devices XVI - San Francisco, CA, United States
Duration: Feb 3 2014Feb 5 2014

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


OtherOrganic Photonic Materials and Devices XVI
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco, CA


  • High refractive index polymers
  • Infrared materials
  • Infrared photonics
  • Optical Materials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Optical properties of sulfur copolymers for infrared applications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this